For more than a decade, Willowdale residents concerned with traffic have been following the political drama surrounding the Yonge Street/Highway 401 interchange. City Council first approved John’s motion to study the area in 2006. This study identified the interchange – and in particular the route for moving southbound Yonge traffic onto eastbound 401 – as the single most fixable contributor to local gridlock.
Since then, the City has been attempting to work with the Province, which owns the land around the interchange, to complete the necessary technical and environmental studies so that we would be able to proceed to the design and construction stage. At John’s urging, the most recent study got underway two years ago and the City assigned money for construction costs in its 2016-2017 capital budgets.
Unfortunately, in recent months, progress has stalled. John believes this has happened because the staff at the Ministry of Transportation have little interest in solving traffic congestion on City roads. This is, of course, a parochial approach at its worst. The fact is, the City cannot proceed without the Province.
Mayor John Tory – who is publically committed to easing traffic congestion in the city – has offered to lend the considerable weight of his office to the ongoing discussions between the City and the Province. At the December Council meeting, the Mayor endorsed John’s motion asking him to approach both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to try to break the decision making gridlock.
As a lynchpin of our local traffic management plan, this interchange continues to be one of John’s top priorities for Willowdale. Residents have spent too many hours stuck in traffic as the result of local urban intensification policies and its long past time governments of all levels stepped up to support them.